*From Finn: Please welcome David Batchelor to the Second Hand News team with his first article* 

Julien Baker’s debut album Sprained Ankle is a beautifully slow downward spiral into the depths of her self uncertainty. It initially attracts the listener with soothing reverb rich guitar tones and her soft voice but the listener quickly understands that this isn’t an album for a faint heart. It is instead for one who seeks the topics of self deprecating drug use, questioning faith, and ultimately finding oneself.
The opening track titled Blacktop eases the listener in with an acoustic track and a pop melody. Julien’s voice and lyrics are honest and only give a hint of what levels of emotion are building when listened to with hindsight after the album.
The following track, Sprained Ankle, introduces the solo electric telecaster guitar, which becomes the main vehicle for this journey, and takes the first step into Juilien’s thoughts. Its opening line of “Wish I could write songs about anything other than death” hits the listener with a clear understanding that this soft voice is hiding something.
As we get further into the album, the tracks gradually get more personal while growing Julien’s whimper into a crying howl. The album builds to its emotional climax with the tracks Something and Rejoice where Juilien lets go with the lines “Why did you let them leave and then make me stay?”.
The final track Go Home opens with purposeful and steady piano chords. They give the listener a sense this is the morning after a snowstorm and they are walking out into a pristine landscape after a turbulent night. In this track Julien is the most honest and clear with her past drug addiction and mental battles, alluding to her black veins in previous songs on the album, and closes with the line “God, I wanna go home”.
This album is fantastic. It is an underdog album which hits like a train. 5/5.
 Available on Bandcamp: https://julienbaker.bandcamp.com/album/sprained-ankle-3


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